Georgia lost a great man and a great leader this week with the death of Bo Callaway. We send our sincerest condolences to his family.
Monday is the deadline to register for the Foundation’s March 26 Leadership Breakfast, “Georgia Legislative Roundup.” Join Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield and Eric Cochling, vice president of Policy Development at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, at 8 a.m. at Cobb County’s Georgian Club to recap the 2014 Georgia Legislative Session and what’s on tap for 2015. This event is open to the public and is $25 to attend: Find out more and register at www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=12276.
Quotes of Note
“I have no doubt that the nation has suffered more from undue secrecy than from undue disclosure. The government takes good care of itself.” – Daniel Schorr
“It is very evident that Charity and fraternity are virtues only when they are free and spontaneous. State and, therefore, forced, charity is not a virtue, it is a tax.“ – Ambroise Clement
“No government and no civil law can guarantee and bring about freedom otherwise than by supporting and defending the fundamental institutions of the market economy. Government means always coercion and compulsion and is by necessity the opposite of liberty. Government is a guarantor of liberty and is compatible with liberty only if its range is adequately restricted to the preservation of what is called economic freedom.” – Ludwig von Mises
It’s Sunshine Week, which highlights government transparency. According to the Washington Post, it’s not going too well for the current administration, which promised to be the most transparent in history on the day President Obama took office. An Associated Press analysis of federal data found that the Obama administration has grown more secretive over time.
Spending: The big issue with government infrastructure spending is not so much the level of it but the efficiency of it, according to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute. Much of it gets misallocated by politics, and projects are often mismanaged and go over budget. “The good news is that four-fifths of all U.S. infrastructure spending is private … Companies will aim for the optimum level of investment if they can earn a decent rate of return. In this regard, policy-makers can help by removing tax and regulatory barriers” so companies can pursue upgrades.
Pension reform: “What is the benefit to the employee or the citizens who pay taxes to have someone just sitting there waiting until they can walk out the door?” asks former Michigan State Treasurer Doug Roberts, referring to pension reform. “Isn’t it better to have workers leave when they want? The citizens get better employees, employees who want to be there.” Source: Reason Foundation
Targeted message Ten states, seven of them controlled by Republicans, hold the key to whether the Obama administration succeeds at signing up 6 million people by the deadline of March 31.Those large states account for nearly 30 million uninsured, almost two-thirds of the nation’s 47 million uninsured. That’s why the Obama administration and advocates have focused so much attention on California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to Kaiser Health News.
Who will pay? Under current rules, health insurance companies generally cancel a policy if a subscriber falls behind more than 30 days on premium payments. But with an unusual 90-day grace period for government-subsidized health plans, insurers can “pend” those claims while patients catch up on payments – or not – and insurers may ultimately end up not paying providers. Doctors groups are urging physicians to check patients’ insurance status before every visit, Kaiser Health News reports.
What’s the penalty? Perhaps the biggest problem is a lack of public understanding of the complex and frequently changing program that is the Affordable Care Act, tax experts say. They expect that to be compounded by a misunderstanding of the penalties, as many don’t realize they could pay more than the minimum $95 for not having insurance. Many consumers could be in for a nasty surprise when they file their taxes in 2015. Source: Wall Street Journal
Energy and Environment
Con artist in charge: This week, the U.S. Senate Environment committee released an astonishing report that uncovers a biased, politicized and troubling process for examining scientific evidence at the Environmental Protection Agency. The 67-page report highlights how science and scientists were ignored. More troubling in this end-justifies-the-means tale is how industry and America’s taxpayers and consumers continue to foot the bill for this process.
ESAs: Arizona is considering a dramatic expansion to its nation-leading efforts to give parents control over their child’s education funds. The state’s 3-year-old Empowerment Scholarship Account program could grow from dispersing $10.2 million to 761 students this year to applying to more than 28,000 students in the next five years. With the ESA bank accounts, qualifying families get a debit card to spend the money on education. The money can go toward private-school tuition, homeschooling materials, online classes and community-college tuition. Families can also set aside up to $2,000 of those funds for college each year. Source: ArizonaCentral
Benita Dodd’s op-ed on the Atlanta Streetcar project was one of three The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published this week. Read the op-eds here.
Web site of the week: www.newgeography.com analyzes the places where we live and work. Recent articles focus on sprawling Los Angeles, the reinvention of Sanford, Fla. (where Trayvon Martin was killed), and the battle over light rail in Portland, Ore.
YouTube: We are posting highlights from our Annual Dinner. Watch the inspiring remarks by Gordon Beckham, Noel Khalil and Daniel Garza.
Social media: The Foundation has 2,230 “likes” on Facebook and 1,160 Twitter followers!
The Forum: The 2013-14 legislative session ended Thursday night; The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, will carry details on the good, the bad and the ugly under the Gold Dome. Find out the latest on ObamaCare and what Georgia’s U.S. Senate candidates want for health care in the state in Benita Dodd’s, “Checking Up On Health.” Read these and other recent posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Education Choice Issues Meet Silence of the Left,” by John Goodman.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/. Become a fan of the Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/gppf.